Computerworld - Cryptography expert Martin Hellman, co-inventor of Diffie- Hellman public-key encryption, says he never encrypts his e-mail. It's just too much trouble.
"There's a lack of integrated, automatic, transparent crypto," says Hellman, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University. "If security is an add-on that people have to do something special to get, then most of the time they will not get it."
But there are developments afoot that during the next five years may bring some of the integration, automation and transparency Hellman is looking for.
"Cryptographic operations will disappear into the infrastructure," predicts Tom Berson, a principal scientist at Palo Alto Research Center Inc. (PARC) in California. "The complexities of cryptography and of cryptographic key management will be hidden from users."
Encryption will be seamlessly integrated into virtually every computing device and piece of communications software, Berson says.
And it will happen not a moment too soon. Increased connectivity in general and the rapid rise in wireless communications in particular are leaving users with files, messages and telephone conversations vulnerable to loss of privacy and confidentiality.
PARC researchers have several projects under way to encourage the use of encryption. One, called Quicksilver, is a program aimed at convincing vendors and users that cryptography is no longer slow and difficult to use. In its Quicksilver Manifesto, PARC exhorts users to "demand that your interests take priority over obsolete beliefs about what can and cannot be done to secure your information."
PARC is also working on making encryption more user-friendly. For example, it has proposed an intuitive scheme for user authentication in ad hoc wireless networks. The scheme uses public-key cryptography, but without a public-key infrastructure (PKI) that requires users to have digital certificates signed by a trusted third party.
"The problem with PKI is the I, not the PK," says PARC researcher Diana Smetters.
Stanford researcher Dan Boneh is developing a public-key system based on Identity-Based Encryption, by which users can use their e-mail addresses as their public keys. Recipients of e-mail encrypted by the system wouldn't need pre-established keys or certificates. The system would also allow the creation of messages that can be read only at a specified future time.
And Anna Lysyanskaya, a computer science graduate student at MIT, is working with IBM to develop privacy-oriented "anonymous credentials." For example, users could sign up for an online service without divulging their identities. The service provider could verify that a user is registered, but it couldn't track his activities and track them back to him.
Years of Development
Encryption is based on complex mathematics, and it often takes years for experts to satisfy themselves that there are no serious flaws in a cryptosystem. For example, the new federal Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) algorithm, which is replacing the old, less secure Data Encryption Standard, is based on techniques developed in the mid-1990s. But the U.S. Department of Defense won't widely deploy AES cryptography until 2007.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- The 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements addressed by Peer 1 Hosting This handy quick reference outlines the 12 PCI DSS 3.0 requirements, who needs to be compliant and how Alert Logic solutions address the...
- Defense Throughout the Vulnerability Life Cycle This whitepaper provides insight into how to leverage threat and log management technologies to protect your IT assets throughout their vulnerability life cycle.
- Mobile Policy Checklist Here's what to consider when putting together a mobile policy designed to support a highly productive workforce.
- Securing BYOD Mobile computing is becoming so ubiquitous that people no longer bat an eye seeing someone working two devices simultaneously. Individuals and organizations are...
- Live Webcast On-demand webinar: "Mobility Mayhem: Balancing BYOD with Enterprise Security" Check out this on-demand webinar to hear Sophos senior security expert John Shier deep dive into how BYOD impacts your enterprise security strategy...
- Live Webcast Endpoint Backup & Restore: Protect Everyone, Everywhere Arek Sokol from the bleeding-edge IT team at Genentech/Roche explains how he leverages cross-platform enterprise endpoint backup in the public cloud as part...
- Streamline Software Asset Management, Compose a software Management Symphony Keeping track of your organization's software is easy with effective software management solutions from CDW. View the videos in our software solutions channel
- Druva inSync: Endpoint Data Protection & Governance CLICK HERE to watch this video about protecting corporate data on laptops and mobile devices, sponsored by Druva. All Security White Papers | Webcasts